The Oncogenic MicroRNA Hsa-miR-155-5p Targets the Transcription Factor ELK3 and Links It to the Hypoxia Response

Abstract

The molecular response to hypoxia is a critical cellular process implicated in cancer, and a target for drug development. The activity of the major player, HIF1α, is regulated at different levels by various factors, including the transcription factor ELK3. The molecular mechanisms of this intimate connection remain largely unknown. Whilst investigating global ELK3-chromatin interactions, we uncovered an unexpected connection that involves the microRNA hsa-miR-155-5p, a hypoxia-inducible oncomir that targets HIF1α. One of the ELK3 chromatin binding sites, detected by Chromatin Immuno-Precipitation Sequencing (ChIP-seq) of normal Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVEC), is located at the transcription start site of the MIR155HG genes that expresses hsa-miR-155-5p. We confirmed that ELK3 binds to this promoter by ChIP and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR). We showed that ELK3 and hsa-miR-155-5p form a double-negative regulatory loop, in that ELK3 depletion induced hsa-miR-155-5p expression and hsa-miR-155-5p expression decreased ELK3 expression at the RNA level through a conserved target sequence in its 3'-UTR. We further showed that the activities of hsa-miR-155-5p and ELK3 are functionally linked. Pathway analysis indicates that both factors are implicated in related processes, including cancer and angiogenesis. Hsa-miR-155-5p expression and ELK3 depletion have similar effects on expression of known ELK3 target genes, and on in-vitro angiogenesis and wound closure. Bioinformatic analysis of cancer RNA-seq data shows that hsa-miR-155-5p and ELK3 expression are significantly anti-correlated, as would be expected from hsa-miR-155-5p targeting ELK3 RNA. Finally, hypoxia (0% oxygen) down-regulates ELK3 mRNA in a microRNA and hsa-miR-155-5p dependent manner. These results tie ELK3 into the hypoxia response pathway through an oncogenic microRNA and into a circuit implicated in the dynamics of the hypoxic response. This crosstalk could be important for the development of new treatments for a range of pathologies.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113050

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@inproceedings{Robertson2014TheOM, title={The Oncogenic MicroRNA Hsa-miR-155-5p Targets the Transcription Factor ELK3 and Links It to the Hypoxia Response}, author={E. Douglas Robertson and Christine Wasylyk and Tao Ye and Alain Jung and Bohdan Wasylyk}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2014} }